Seeing Red: Do fewer protections impact your water?

The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are proposing to significantly narrow the scope of protections for our nation’s waters. The proposal would replace a positive, TU-supported 2015 rule (the Clean Water Rule) designed to clarify the scope of Clean Water Act protections, which includes protections for headwaters, intermittent and ephemeral streams, and wetlands. The new proposal (Replacement Rule) would substantially weaken the Clean Water Act, one of the Nation’s most effective natural resource laws.

Whether you fish or just simply understand the value of clean water, there is no law more important than the Clean Water Act. In 2015, the EPA developed a rule that affirmed Clean Water Act protections for “intermittent and ephemeral streams.” In 2018,  the Environmental Protection Agency proposed weakening these protections. These streams —the headwaters of our nation’s rivers —provide us the fisheries we cherish and the clean drinking water we require. -Trout Unlimited

Intermittent streams are those that have a continuous flow but only at certain times of the year, sustained seasonally by springs, ground-water inputs or a surface water source such as rain or melting snow.    Ephemeral streams flow only briefly (hours to days) in direct response to precipitation in the immediate vicinity.

Intermittent streams are those that have a continuous flow but only at certain times of the year, sustained seasonally by springs, ground-water inputs or a surface water source such as rain or melting snow.

Ephemeral streams flow only briefly (hours to days) in direct response to precipitation in the immediate vicinity.

The proposed Replacement Rule would end Clean Water Act protections for millions of stream miles across the country — streams that contribute to the drinking water supplies of 117-million Americans and provide essential fish and wildlife habitat that support a robust outdoor recreation economy worth $887 billion. The proposed rule would also erase protections for millions of acres of wetlands, a critical part of functioning watersheds, including groundwater recharge, pollution filtration, as well as protecting communities from flooding. In eliminating these protections, the Replacement Rule would deregulate a host of development activities, such as pipeline construction that will, over time, degrade hunting and fishing opportunities in every state in the country.

The Clean Water Act and the 2015 Rule are vital to TU’s work and to anglers across the nation. Whether TU is working with farmers to restore small headwater streams in West Virginia, removing acidic pollution caused by abandoned mines in Pennsylvania, or protecting the world-famous salmon-producing, 14,000-jobs-sustaining watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska, we rely on the Clean Water Act to safeguard our water quality.  

TU members, and sportsmen and women nationwide, want to move forward with progress on cleaning up our nation’s waters, not go backwards. Please join us in writing to tell the Agencies that the Clean Water Act needs to be improved, not weakened. The proposed Replacement Rule should be rejected.